Stakeholders must jointly solve educational woes

‘Alapasita Teu
Auckland, September 6, 2022

Every School Day is a big day, were are told.

These advertisements are coming to a radio, TV screen, newspaper, and social media platform near you. The latest nationwide campaign to address our truancy crisis was launched last week.

It encourages parents, families, and students to return to school.

The campaign highlights the missed opportunities to engage in the big and small moments of a school day that all count towards learning.

Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti notes that the campaign supports on-the-ground and practical measures to address our truancy issues.

Whilst this appears to be a positive step in the fight against truancy, one wonders how a communication plan ranks as such a high priority amongst other, more targeted and practical actions to address school absenteeism.

The Attendance Service Model

Redesigning the Attendance Service model to be more inclusive of schools, parents/guardians, and local communities is a low priority despite noted dissatisfaction with the 2013 changes to the national service. So is, it seems, addressing within-school factors that contribute to negative school attendance.

Factors such as retaining teachers, quality education to a national school curriculum and teaching pedagogies will help to address our worsening literacy and numeracy levels.

There is merit in nationwide efforts to encourage our parents/guardians to collaborate with schools in the duty of care for our children’s learning by playing their part. However, this campaign has highlighted our nation’s apathy toward the current state of our compulsory education system. Media coverage of the post-Covid impacts on our learners, teachers and schools has been the bare minimum.

‘Alapasita Teu

Our politicians continue to use education as a political football to the detriment of our children’s learning and futures. The public has yet to see a targeted catch-up plan or anything to address the post-Covid impacts on our compulsory education system and students.

The Real issues

We have seen the coverage of teacher workforce shortages and teacher burnout, yet we are making minimal effort to address this.

Our longstanding truancy issues are simply a symptom of an education sector crying for help. From chronic school attendance issues to declining literacy and numeracy rates, we need more than communication plans.

Now more than ever, in dealing with the aftermath of two years of disrupted learning, our children need champions for their futures across all sectors of the education system.

Our communities and families must push past the unconcern for our children’s learning and get them back into learning settings.

The campaign also reminds us that schools can only do so much; parents and families must take responsibility for their role in their child’s education. At the government level, we need the Ministry of Education to optimise local solutions and amplify what schools are doing to combat truancy. We must eliminate strategies that act as a smokescreen for lack of activity.

We need more long-term thinking that is proactive and addresses our present education issues and works to conserve education as a gift to be passed on to future generations.

‘Alapasita Teu is a Researcher at the Maxim Institute, an independent think tank working to promote the dignity of every person in New Zealand by standing for freedom, justice, compassion, and hope.

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